7 Reasons To Buy Handmade Gifts

As we get closer to the holidays, buying gifts for your family and friends will most certainly come to mind (as long as they’re not on the naughty list, right?).

For many people buying gifts can be pretty challenging because it may seem like your family and friends already have everything.

This holiday season, consider buying something handmade by a local maker. Here are just a few reasons to buy handmade gifts this year.

  1. Local Economics. When you buy something handmade from my local maker you support the local economy. After all, small businesses are the backbone of our national economy.
  2. Community Development. Buying handmade products naturally builds a local community. Every handmade item becomes a conversation piece.
  3. Cyclical Re-investment. Most of the time local makers are buying their supplies locally which helps other small businesses and families.
  4. The Next New Thing. Handmade items are contemporary, new, and often the origin of modern trends.
  5. Who Made It? You can put a face to where your items come from compared to having no clue if mass produced products are safe for your home until a recall is ordered. Local makers know the origin of their materials.
  6. Customer Service. (One of my favorites) by visiting a local makers gift shop you get to avoid the self check out and have your purchases bagged or even gift wrapped. And many makers are even offering free shipping these days!
  7. Quality & Safety. Handmade items are typically made using durable, high-quality materials and not estrogen or chemical rich supplies.

So this year visit some local makers and buy something unique that will be genuinely appreciated.

Does someone in your life enjoy home decor? Find a handmade painting made by a local painter, or sculpture made by a local sculptor.

Do you have a coffee or tea drinker in your life? Find that local potter and buy them a mug or two.

Need something custom made? Big box stores aren’t the place to go!

To see handmade items in our shop, click here!

The Ashes Still Speak

Support the arts & buy what you like here!

After the fire completely consumed his family’s house in the Oakland, CA area the only thing that remained were their white porcelain pots. During a brief phone interview Tsuruta shared that his Japanese family had specific uses for their pots depending on what the meal was.

Takemi Tsuruta remembers that the glaze on these porcelain dishes were still fully intact, despite temperatures exceeding 2000°F while burning his family’s house to the ground. In their household, their white porcelain dishes were used for spaghetti dinners and were the only items that survived the catastrophe. This stuck with Tsuruta throughout his educational years.

And even though at the time Takemi was just in junior high school, this experience formed a lasting artistic influence in his work even today.

Takemi’s work has been described as “a perfect blend of artful & practical,” “essential”, “striking”, “beautiful both empty & full”, “edgy & modern” just to reference a few of his clients’ remarks.

I personally find Tsuruta’s work refreshing in its simplicity, care and sleekness in a world that seems to lust over hyper complex approaches and developments to art, business, technology, and life. To be in the presence of such work is tranquilizing and certainly relaxing.

If you never thought a set of porcelain cups could be akin to sitting on a cool beach void of people, technology, and the hustle & bustle of the rat race, I invite you then into the artwork of Takemi Tsuruta where it is one of his design elements.

Takemi currently practices his craft in the San Francisco area of Clayton, California and can be found on Instagram via @tsurutastudio.

*For purchase & pricing information, please visit the online shop. Shipping is free.

*Work is fired to cone 11-12 and is dinnerware safe.

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New Studio, Full Circle

In 2001 I setup my first real art studio in downtown Humboldt, TN. It was on S. 13th Ave besides a local bar that inadvertently provided me with some classic rock studio tunes to work to. I would work late into the night on welded steel sculptures and pottery and be frequently visited by the patrons of my neighbors clientele, which provided for some interesting critiques and conversations on life, art, and both their potential meanings. I kept this studio running until I graduated college in 2005 from Union University and went off to grad school to Bowling Green State Univeristy in Bowling Green, Ohio to study with some prolific artists in my areas of interests, Shawn Morin and John Balistreri.

After graduating grad school, I held a professorship a few years and moved back to Humboldt along with my newly wed wife, Emily, and we had begun an international pursuit that was still being developed, but I new it would entail the arts. While a young college student, I had begun to develop a career vision that looked something like a community art center/studio. And in 2010, we started this process with renovating a building on Main St. Part of this overall concept entailed a restaurant within its walls. Think restaurant and gift shop in the front of the space, and art studios and classrooms in the back of the space.

After about a year and a half, we balanced the books and saw the immense tax exposure restaurants have. And compared to some of our other investments, we couldn’t justify keeping a restaurant going when we could invest our resources in other investment vehicles and not be heavily double taxed by local, state and federal governments. So we closed it down, but kept the art center concept alive and decided to pursue a different approach to the overall development.

And in 2014, my family and I left the country to live in Northeast Asia for a couple of years to develop a what had become more defined as a cultural art exchange endeavor and returned to the U.S. at the end of 2015/beginning 2016 to raise and save money to continue the development.

Before returning to Asia, my hope is to get a self-sustainable studio operating that we can utilize while back in Asia as a bridge-building platform to Asian and even Russian artists and artisans.

The timing seems right for this here in the U.S. because the economy is the best it’s been since my childhood memories of a vibrant downtown. My family has had businesses in the downtown area since the 70’s and I essentially grew up in a two block area after school in downtown Humboldt.

Our little town of about 8500 people is experiencing an economic stimulus it hasn’t tasted for about 25 years, the pre-Walmart era as I think of it.

I am now renovating the same building my grandparents bought when they moved here from Memphis to run an appliance store called Western Auto into this art studio I’m hoping will be the U.S. headquarters for our international art exchange, or at least in the downtown area.

This will be the 4th building my family and I have renovated in the downtown area in the past 10 years, but this time a handful of others have already completed their renovations or are also in the process. The downtown area has several restaurants, shopping boutiques, the regional art museum and gallery, and an amazing movie theater.

So if you want to avoid the hectic traffic and chain restaurants of Jackson, TN, just drive 10-15 minutes North on the 45 Bypass to Humboldt.

Being back in downtown Humboldt, Tennessee is definitely like coming full circle, again of which I’m truly excited and thankful about.

It’s a great time to be in Humboldt, TN! Come visit the downtown area and enjoy a stroll around!

For more information about Pottery Classes, click HERE.

Proceeds from tuition goes towards cultural exchange efforts in Northeast Asia.

Audrey Hepburn Has Entered The Building!

Are you a fan of great, timeless artwork that is also modern? How about of Audrey Hepburn? If so, be ready to be breath-taken because we have a one-of-a-kind mixed media painting! This work is nothing short of astounding. Nearly 6 square feet and beautifully crafted with gold leaf, you can rest assure this painting will most certainly accent any space.

Good news is, it has just been listed on our online shop so it’s still available for you to view!

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“Audrey Hepburn” by Jessica Alsobrook

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